Preqin: Number Of Active Private Capital Firms Growing Again

Nov 9 2017 | 9:46pm ET

After falling steadily each year since the global financial crisis, the number of private capital firms active in the industry is recovering, according to new research from Preqin. 

In 2016, 500 new private capital firms were formed, which when added to a further 309 established so far this year brings the total to 7,500 firms active (as defined by the vintage year of their first recorded fund) worldwide employing nearly 200,000 people. Firms which do not raise a fund for 10 years were considered to be inactive, Preqin said. 

The research was contained in Preqin’s November 2017 Private Equity Spotlight.

Defining the smallest firms as those with under $250 million in AUM and the largest as those with $10 billion or more, the company also determined that the average number of employees varies with the assets under management of the firms in question. The smallest firms employ an average of 13 members, while the largest employ an average of 199 people.

When split by geographic location, North America has the largest average number of employees, seeing a mean of 53 members of staff, while Asia-Pacific-based firms came in second with an average of 42 employees.

Other key facts from Preqin’s report: 

  • Private capital assets under management and capital distributions have seen strong growth. As of December 2016, AUM amounted to $4.6 trillion, while 2015 and 2016 saw the highest capital distributions on record ($858 billion and $909 billion, respectively). 
  • There are an estimated 108,400 people working within the private equity industry.
  • Larger firms tend to have fewer employees per $1 billion in AUM than smaller firms: While firms with less than $250 million in AUM employ an average of 176 people per $1 billion, firms with $10 billion or more employ 10 people per $1 billion. 

“The private capital industry has seen an overall trend of healthy growth, with the number of active firms in market increasing at a more rapid pace in the past couple of years,” said Christopher Elvin, Preqin’s head of private equity products, in a statement. “Since 2008, private capital distributions to investors have been growing as well, and in the last five years, distributed capital has outstripped annual called capital, with 2015 and 2016 seeing record amounts of capital returned to investors. This expansion of the industry has led many private capital firms to expand their operations, and the majority intend to keep recruiting additional staff through 2018.” 

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